Alright, I better start this out by saying I’m not really a contrarian when it comes to automation and data synchronization across multiple platforms. Of course I’m not. But today in Philly at the ETMA Connected Revolution conference, I sat on a panel with a few esteemed colleagues, and that’s the position I took, because sometimes it’s important to step back and look at it from a more common sense approach.
Data synchronization is whizzing its way forward in the enterprise. Companies are jumping to automate, automate, AUTOMATE! in the name of efficiency and “the future of business.” But I’m here to say that, while all of that is well and good, the future of business will rely on what good business always has relied on: A great end user experience.
Data synchronization, as I’ll explain, doesn’t always have the end user in mind.
Take the all-too-well known example of the automated phone tree we get when we call for customer service. The end user (you) generally hates the process of waiting for a robo-voice to spout off 10 options, only to misunderstand or blatantly ignore your cries for agent/representative/human. But the system, overall, is a huge “efficiency” win for the company deploying it. And so it stays.
But like I said: I am pro-automation. Really! Automation leads to greater headcount efficiency and less training. A con is that you can lose touch with your customer as a service organization, and that could be your downfall.
I’d like to see some end user focus when making decisions about when, what, where, and how to make data synchronization as great as it can be within an organization’s automation ecosystem. One way I see that happening is through enabling the “super agent.”
The Super Agent is a specially trained individual who can quickly and accurately decipher the needs of an individual (your end user). There is something to be said for a personal, human touch when dealing with transactions, issues, or anything around end user support.
Instead of connecting every system, we rely on Super Agents who can adapt when those systems inevitably change. The end goal is a customer who feels like we have engaged them on their playing field, instead of simply throwing them into a chatbot scenario.
The Super Agent isn’t the least expensive option, so it isn’t the answer for all end user support. A possible application would be to utilize the Super Agent in more complex support scenarios, driving simple ones through an automation process.
At Wireless Analytics, we advocate the model of the Super Agent in this way while still driving cost efficiencies through automation where appropriate. There is not a black and white solution to effective service management. You have to find the right mix of automation and customer service in order to win!
In today’s panel, we talked about what each of our organizations is doing — for example, what AT&T is doing to make it easier for service providers to synchronize data from your platform to theirs, how Wireless Analytics and Ezwim approach data synchronization differently.
We heard about pros, cons, and best practices around order processing and robotic process automation (RPA) for carrier data files, and some of the misconceptions around API stability, how “easy” APIs really are, and identity management and its impact on the help desk.
The ETMA conference is always full of really interesting conversations among leaders from the top companies supporting technology management. This panel with companies from the data synchronization space was no exception.
At the end of day, before you move down the path of automation, make sure you have a clear end goal (e.g. speed, reducing manpower, economies of scale). Automating a flawed process will not yield desired results.
Be sure to check out ETMA if you haven’t yet.
If you were at the panel and have any comments, please share them with us! And if you missed me in Philly at ETMA, I’m always around and up for a healthy debate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I promise it won’t be a robot responding.